DALLAS, Pa. — Transfer students might want to come to Penn State Wilkes-Barre for a variety of reasons — for Kiarra Moore, it was the campus’ quiet setting and talented instructors that drew her attention.
Moore, a criminal justice major from Rochester, New York, is in her final year at Penn State Wilkes-Barre after transferring to the campus from Genessee Community College in New York for the start of her junior year.
“I wanted somewhere quiet at a campus that isn’t too big. I didn’t want to stay home but didn’t want to go too far from home,” Moore said. “I saw they had my major and Dr. Rebecca Sarver (assistant teaching professor and program coordinator of criminal justice) here. She is a really good professor who has worked in the field for a long time. I liked that Penn State Wilkes-Barre has a great criminal justice program with many students in it.”
Moore worked with Sarver, her adviser, and found the transfer process easier than she was expecting.
“Dr. Sarver was a really big help for scheduling my classes,” Moore said. “She was focused on helping me get what I need to finish my degree on time. I really appreciated her for that.”
Sarver said, “Kiarra is a motivated and mature student. She made a smooth transition to Penn State Wilkes-Barre by making full use of all the campus support systems and services, including regular meetings with me as her adviser.”
Moore said she is happy she transferred, especially because she gets to be involved in many campus activities. She is a work-study student for the Student Activities Office, creating flyers to promote events and helping at those events, and the Student Affairs Office, assisting with paperwork and the campus food bank. She also won the Lion’s Pride Award at last year’s Leadership and Athletics Awards Ceremony, honoring her work with Student Activities that helps improve the quality of student life at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
“This campus and what it comes with allows me to do more and be more involved,” Moore said. “This campus has been good to me. I have done a lot since I’ve been here and met some great people. I have had a lot of great opportunities since I’ve been here and I’m grateful for that.”
Leadership on display
Moore is the president and founder of the Black Student Union at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, a group that just launched this year and already has 17 active members.
“I wanted to create a safe space for Black students and I really wanted them to feel welcome. It’s important for them to have a space where they can feel like themselves, be themselves and have fun with the activities we have within this club,” she said.
Director of Student Services and Engagement Wanda Ochei supervises Moore for her work-study position and also gave her some advice with her idea to start a club for Black students.
“Last year, Kiarra and I were talking about the need for students of color to be able to commune together and have an organization that was just for them that could focus on the cultural aspects of being African American, from food to music to dance to many other things,” Ochei said. “We also talked about the importance of our campus community learning from a group like this and from our students who are part of the African American culture. She came back to me after that conversation and said she’d like to make that happen.”
Moore sought advice from the president of the newly formed Black Student Union at Penn State Hazleton to learn how they established their group, how they recruited students to be members and what kinds of activities they are planning. She drew up a constitution for a Black Student Union at Penn State Wilkes-Barre and the club was among those featured at the campus club fair early this semester.
“I’m so proud of Kiarra for taking the initiative. Starting an organization like this takes a lot of time and attention,” Ochei said. “I believe the Black Student Union is going to strengthen a sense of community and belonging and make students of color feel more a part of Penn State Wilkes-Barre and the area.”
The Black Student Union has already held its first fundraiser to raise money for club operations — selling affordable snacks and drinks at volleyball games — and will continue to do so throughout the volleyball and basketball seasons. The group is also planning a Halloween party for Penn State Wilkes-Barre students.
Balancing a busy schedule
As a busy student, employee and leader, Moore knows the importance of maintaining balance in all things.
“I talk with my adviser about how to balance my schoolwork and activities,” she said. “I focus on each one for a little bit at a time. I try to do my schoolwork ahead of time, usually about a week before it’s due to make sure everything is done. And I work on it between classes.”
When she is home in Rochester, she works at an organization called Lifetime Assistance, where she helps adults living with disabilities as a direct support person. After completing her bachelor’s degree at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, Moore hopes to attain a job as a probation officer working with juveniles while attending law school with an interest in family law.
“Since I was young, I always wanted to help people and make a change,” she said. “Especially growing up where I’m from, I’ve seen a lot. It made me want to help people within society and within the criminal justice system.”
“There are so many opportunities and people are very friendly,” Moore said. “When you get involved, you definitely see more of the campus. Penn State Wilkes-Barre is a great place to be, especially if you like a space that’s beautiful and quiet at the same time.”
Ochei praised Moore for her interest in getting involved and said that contributed to her smooth transfer to Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
“She is excited to be here and enjoys being involved and engaged,” Ochei said. “Kiarra has excellent organizational skills, people skills and listening skills. She takes everything in while listening and processing. I think that is a great combination for a successful leader.”